Anime Snapshots: Mob Psycho #10 Fire Scene

Sometimes an anime struts along that is charismatic from beginning to end, a complete package that is so much more than the some of its parts . And sometimes a more run-of-the-mill series can break form and produce a wondrous episode that you can neatly lift out and up onto a pedestal. But once in a while this glory lasts only a fleeting moment – a shot, a cut or a scene that punches through and reaches a short-lived apex. These posts are dedicated to those honorary instants.

I have already lauded the animation power of Mob Pscyho through my reviews of its standout episodes 1 and 8, but there was a particular beat in episode 10 that stretched my jaw to the floor. I’m talking, of course, about the fire scene. Fire is one of those raw, innate pillars of effect animation that we have all been exposed to many times over our years of service in the anime fandom. Alongside water, lightning and smoke, fire has been the pursuit of many a talented animator and it’s tempting to think it’s been rendered in every possible way already. From the sparse and boldly coloured forms of Yoshinori Kanada and Masahito Yamsahita’s flames to the intense realism of Mitsuo Iso’s carefully crafted billowing fire, this is a field with a rich creative history. Yoshinori Kanada’s fire dragon is one of the most iconic, oft-homaged pieces of animation ever created.

So it’s rare that quality fire animation can jump out and make an impression these days. It certainly did here. This sequence, lasting only a couple of minutes, stole the show! The roaring, intense heat of the fire enveloping the characters, and at times the whole screen, could really be felt. And it’s not just the way the fire looked and moved in any conventional sense – it’s the way it really felt like it was sucking the characters in to this epicenter of unimaginable inferno, whipping around them and blasting them like a furious storm.

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The opening cut, handled by animator Kazuto Arai exemplifies this, with the fire bursting down the hallway and washing over Terada drowning him, and soon the audience, in a sea of heat. The aqueous movement of the fire was very deliberate, with the animator using shots of the crashing waves of the ocean for reference.

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Straight after that we’re into the more sketchy style with more conventional flickering flame motion. After being awash with flames we’re now in the hearth, surrounding by burning flame. This part is more conventional but straddles a good balance between realism and animation abstraction and has a more classically ‘mob psycho’ feel to it with its rough pencil lines.

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The next shot is distinctly digital genga apparently from web-gen animator, Shin Ogasawara. I have always had a soft-spot for web-gen effects animation. The fact that is is digitally drawn means that it is not drawn with lines forming shapes but directly painted with digital brushes. This means that it’s so much easier to create fluid and intricate effects animation such as splashing colours and leaping sparks. This strength of digital animation is used to good effect here creating a layered and fast shot of the fire that helps to convey its intensity.

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And finally the inferno retreats to a fireball as Terada entraps his opponent. This is the best animation of the scene, with fine, detailed linework and a swirling, pulsating movement that’s so reminiscent of Hironori Tanaka that it’s thought to be uncredited work from him. He has a habit of going credit bare on many series, so it would not surprise me for him to turn up here. The tail end of this fireball scene raises the bar again, however, with a segment that is a cut above the rest in terms of intensity.

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Although the movement and linework is similar to the previous gif, can you feel the difference in animation power? There’s just something more visceral and violent about this fire; it burns brighter and with more fury.  Although there’s definitely still clear defined grades of colour, the linework is less crisp, instead the colours flow into each other in an undulating blur of heat. This is probably as close as you can get to actually being burnt watching anime. The depiction of the figure within the flames is also different, less fine lines and more thick, dirty graphite flickering out of form. I sense the magic of Kameda here. Although he’s not credited with genga this episode, there’s something about the scrawled figure and the ashy debri after the fireball dissipates that makes me wonder! Perhaps he just supervised this part of Tanaka’s (or whoever it was) work.

But what is so interesting about this is that this furnace was depicted by so many animators. In your typical anime this whole sequence would be probably be given to an effects animator specialist and that one animator would create the whole feel of the fire. But Mob Psycho’s mantra is to use different anime styles and techniques to keep the audience on their toes, never knowing what the visuals are going to do next. I suspect the choice to split this up and let several animators realise their own creative ideas of how the fire should look was very deliberate.

Arai gave the feeling of suddenly being overwhelmed with his crashing wave of heat, Ogasawara depicted its powerful speed while the animators of the fireball sequence, whoever these nameless heroes may be, really ramped the intensity up to the next level.

 

Sakuga MADs – February 2011 – Notes

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uploaded by mochihan3

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uploaded by animeblue
 

It’s time to mark the passing of February 2011 with a sakuga MAD or two! When pitted against the former month of January, February doesn’t seem particularly impressive. But this is a middle-of-the-season month, without the lineup of new OPs that the start of a season brings, or the climactic battle sequences that usually accompany its end – I think these months usually have weaker offerings.

These MADs together do a pretty good job of covering all the notable bits of animation, but, particularly no. 1, they actually feels a little desperate for scenes at times. As with last month, AnimeBlue’s is less exciting to watch because it’s under-edited, but it’s still good to have both, and he caught a few good parts that the first one missed (such as Tetsuya Nishio’s contribution to Kimi ni Todoke). Another problem with the first one is that there are a number of scenes I feel don’t belong in a sakuga MAD, like the Bakuman, Ochinko and OreImo parts.

⚫ Houkago no Pleiades contributed some really interesting animation, from a crew of less senior Gainax animators. The lack of big names like Sushio, or Yoshinari meant that it is hard to put an animator’s name to specific cuts, but it’s nice to see Gainax has other animators who can carry the burden by themselves. As many remarked in the 4chan sakuga thread, a number of cuts had a bit of a Tanaka Hironori vibe to them, but he was not involved in the episode. Probably the best moment was from Ootsuka Mai Kouno Megumi, who did the final action scene in the fourth episode (including the fireball attack bit).

⚫ The fight sequence from Yumekui Merry was Tanaka Hironori . While it is interesting animation and typically well-executed, it feels somewhat unlike his usual style. The movement is more languid and less purposeful than usual. Someone once described his animation style as ‘ragdoll’ to me, and I think that fits his style. Perhaps he’s evolving as an animator? Thoughts, anyone?

⚫ The Index 2 OP is nice stuff indeed. It also features animation from Ootsuka Mai.

⚫ The Star Driver karaoke scene had a lot of people talking on twitter. It reminded some of Yutaka Nakamura, but it turns out he isn’t credited for that episode. As @raito_kun pointed out, this scene was actually credited seperately, probably because it was done in-house at BONES while the rest of the episode was outsourced. The animators credited are Takahiro Shikama, Takaaki Izumo, Yasuyuki Kai and Shosuke Ishibashi. Of those names, Shikama probably did the best cuts.

⚫ The fight with the horse in Kore Zombie 7 was probably done by Yamashita Toshinori

⚫ Star Driver 19 – The circus/aerial battle was done by Satoshi Mori (confirmed on his twitter) (thanks @raito_kun)

⚫ Dragon Crisis 6 – this fight scene is one of my favourite sequences this month. I’m not watching the show, but this is really good, smooth and detailed work. It could be Hiroshi Tomioka but I’m not so sure its his style (judging by other character battle scenes of his I’ve seen) and I don’t know what other cuts were in the episode. Another guess: it could be Matsutake Tokuyuki, who did the cut from episode 1 that appeared in last MAD. But I’m interested to hear if anyone else knows anything.

2. Kimi ni Todoke 6 – probably from god-tier animator, Tetsuya Nishio. The movement of the hair is so crisp and fluid!

2. Bleach 309 – This episode drew a lot of attention from Japanese sakuga fans, and it’s pretty clear why: it features some really good effect animation. The part where the monster (sorry I can’t be more specific – I’m not a Bleach reader/watcher) erupts from the man is really good. That part was probably done by Kurita Shinichi (although some thought he may have done the fight sequence that episode). The series of explosions that follow are probably the work of Tanaka Hironori. The very last segment of this MAD is also from that episode, and could have been done by Kudou Masashi.

Please comment, or ask questions!